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First, Do No Harm…. Second, Do No Harm…. Third, Do No Harm….

Posted on March 21 2010 6:30 pm
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Here we are in crunch time and it occurred to me: Why hasn’t the first principle of medical care itself — “First, do no harm” — not been the rallying cry of conservative, common sense opposition to federal takeover of health care? Not just rallying cry, but conservatives’ rhetorical cudgel-of-choice to wield against proponents of this massive (395,096-word) and massively unpopular piece of socialistic legislation.

The question has been posed as an echo, not a sound. Last December one piece at NR asked the question, armed with facts but otherwise almost absent-mindedly. A couple of weeks ago The Economist posed the question, but in terms of doing no harm to the environment! Lest we forget, Ronald Reagan set the standard for conversational, statesmanly, detailed criticism of national health care programs with an LP record opposing Medicare

and in his most-famous debate zinger against Jimmy Carter (Clip 1).

A generation later, the Paul Krugmans of the world swat down aspiring conservative leaders when they draw on this legacy. Keith Olbermann criticizes supporters of the Democrats’ health care bill for “largely fail[ing] to understand the terror, the fear of death, that underlies this debate.” Note to Olby: the government is not responsible for managing or mitigating the one struggle shared by every individual.

So in the final hours of the Democratic health care reform debate, let 216 Congressmen draw on that Reagan gravitas and charm. When the vote comes around, let them intone:

First, do no harm…. Second, do no harm…. Third, do no harm….

all the way up to

217th, do no harm.


Jeremiah Duboff blogs as Jeremayakovka.

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